Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Our Health Journey...too amazing not to share! =)

In the past few months, I have been approached by various friends and family seeking advice about the health of their family and wanting to know how we approach health and nutrition in our family.  They have all suggested that I share more of our journey to help other families!  I've finally carved out a few minutes to share our journey with the hope that it will help encourage and educate lots of other mammas and families!! So....here it is...

As a mom of 4 little ones, one of the highest priorities in my life has been the overall well-being of my children.  I desire to provide them a solid foundation and instill in them healthy habits for living a well-balanced life while guiding them to form healthy eating habits as well as modeling an active life style.  As believers, we know that our bodies our not our own but belong to God and we want to care for them and use them to honor Him in every way possible.  It is our desire as parents to model this to our children as they grow and develop through the years. I have also learned through the years that if we as parents are going to be able to give our children the best of ourselves that we must be nourishing and fueling our own bodies with the proper nutrition and exercise.  Along this journey of parenthood, we have had our shares of ear infections, tummy bugs and lingering viruses.  So, with all of that...began my journey for an alternative to just enduring what seemed to be the inevitable and constiantly just treating the bugs and infections with prescriptions.  I knew there had to be something that could help equip us to strengthen our bodies and fuel our bodies to function at optimal levels.

Three years ago, we began our journey with Juice Plus and it has truly been such a blessing to us.  I wanted to take just a few minutes and explain our journey in hopes that our story may encourage and help other families.  I have always been pretty health conscious, meaning that I enjoy exercising, I love fresh fruits and vegetables and I love trying new healthy recipes!  I gravitate towards rich and hearty salads and I love to gulp down a delicious fresh smoothie!  But, re-wind three years ago when we had just two children ages 4 and 2.  I would have considered Bella a healthy kid although she did typically catch the preschool colds, stomach virus or whatever else floating around the church nursery or grocery store carts.  She needed an antibiotic 3-4 times a year which I assumed was pretty normal for a 4 year old and I still considered her on the healthy side for a kid.  Jackson was also pretty "healthy" in the sense that he wasn't a sickly child and rarely needed more than a few antibiotics a year.  But, let me explain the challenges we began to have as a family.  One child would pick up the stomach bug and Wham!!  We would pass that thing around over a couple weeks!!  So stressful!  The stomach bug traveling through a family is no fun at all!  It seemed like every time we would travel, someone would get sick and then we would fall like flies!  Jackson also struggled with asthmatic breathing issues.  From the time he was a baby, every time he would catch even the slightest cold it would turn into wheezing and breathing troubles!  Sure enough, I would end up in the pediatricians office getting shots of prednisone and getting breathing treatments of albuterol and other steroids.  He would wheeze, choke, cough....throw up...it was sooo scary and completely awful to experience! So, every cold that one of us caught would eventually send Jackson into distress.    He also was experiencing terrbile eczema!  His little legs, torso and face was covered with red, painful, itchy, burning, irritated skin.   So, after trying every lotion on the market, the pediatrician finally said we needed to use a prescription steroid cream as well as a daily steroid breathing treatment.  I did not like any bit of this suggestion but I felt that I had no other option.  I couldn't bare to see my little guy suffering and so uncomfortable.  I mean the reality seemed to be that we would choose to use steroids or risk him not being able to breath with every simple cold.  Poor Jack was taking oral and topical steroids just to try and control symptoms!  And bless his soul, he was only two years old!  When he would get the stomach bug or any other illness, his eczema would terribly flare to the point where I was sure at one point he had hives!  Both kids also struggled with constipation from time to time.  And who of you enjoys using those penguin suppositories on kids!!!??  When the kids would get sick, sure enough Jeremy would eventually get it and then it would jeopardize his singing voice which was always awful because his voice is his profession!

Well, I began to pray that the Lord would bring me answers that could possibly offer an alternative to all these medications...an answer to these constant little viruses that would take us down as a family.  Like most moms, I just desired to take care of my babies and offer them the best treatment and care that I could put my hands on.  I desired to give them the proper nutrition so their bodies were strong and balanced and able to fight sickness and infection.  I wanted to feel like their bodies had the strength and power to fight off and be offensive not just defensive in combatting illness with antibiotics and loads of medicine.

After some time, the Lord gently reminded me of a product that I had researched years prior and I began seeking out more knowledge...  This product was Juice Plus.  It is a whole food based nutrition, including juice powder concentrates from 30 different fruit and vegetables and grains.  It is not a multi vitamin, but rather it is made from quality ingredients carefully monitored from farm to capsule to provide natural nutrients your body needs to be at it's best.  It doesn't have a Supplement Label but rather a Nutrition Label because that is exactly what it is...Nutrition in the purest form! Often times, we take Vitamins loaded with supplements, but they are not in the purest form and our body is not able to adequately absorb the form of the vitamin.  However, our body absolutely knows how to absorb and utilize the nutrition in whole foods which is why these capsules and gummies are so effective in our body!    As I began to continue down my research journey, it made complete sense to me.  I listened to podcasts of countless respected physicians, I read medical journals and I listened to the success stories of so many moms who had brought this in to their family.  There are more than 20 prestigious medical and scientific journals that have been published on Juice Plus around the world.  These aren't just at random institutions either, but places like Vale and Vanderbilt!  I loved listening to Dr. Sears and the research he has done and how much of an advocate he is for Juice Plus.  My pediatrician actually is also a strong advocate and has information in his rooms for patients.

For the most part, I had done a good job at giving my kids a variety of fruits and vegetables, but the more I read and investigated, the more I began to discover the reality that we as a society typically ingest the most common, affordable, readily available fruits and vegetables.  Even those of us who consider ourselves very health conscious, do not come near to intaking 30 fruits and vegetables daily.  We know that our bodies need the proper whole food nutrition in order to be fueled and have the ability to fight diseases and ward off infections, but it's nearly impossible to intake all we need each day.  We need a variety of the fruits and vegetables because they all work together to give our bodies the full benefits of all the antioxidants and cellular benefits.  Fruits and vegetables are most definitely the answer to strengthening our body and bringing balance and stability to all our bodily systems....respiratory, circulatory, vascular, immune, digestive and even skeletal.  The list goes on and on....we can all agree that we need a wide variety and lots of fruits and vegetables each day.  I knew that even when we were trying our best, we just could not possibly get 30 servings of fruits and veggies a day.  

SO, as a family, we decided to embark on this journey....and let me share with you the amazing changes we began to experience!!   We all noticed a significant boost in energy from the start!  Our immune systems were all strengthening together too!  Here are more specifics...

Jeremy:  It was so important to keep him at his strongest and healthiest because he is singing and leading worship every Sunday.  He does not have the time or ability to just stay home if he catches every cold or stomach bug that the kids bring home!  He currently has not needed an antibiotic in 3 years. He hasn't had the stomach bug in 3 years and rarely gets any type of sickness.  If he starts to get run down, I triple his Juice Plus intake for a few days and he kicks it and continues on his full week with no hesitation.

Whitney:  I have not needed an antibiotic in nearly 3 years as well!  I haven't had the stomach virus in 3 years and  I rarely get sick.  If I feel a cold coming on, I just triple my dose and kick that virus to the curb.  A homeschooling mom of 4 kids does not have the time for any sickness...much less a cold or a stomach bug!  We all know that moms do not get "sick days!" haha!!  I was diagnosed during my last pregnancy with Idiopathic Subglottis Stenosis (basically narrowing of my airway)...scary I know!  Well, most people with this condition have to have surgery multiple times a year to open the airway due to inflammation.  At this point, I have been able to go nearly a year!  I really do believe that Juice Plus has prevented intense inflammation that my body would typically be prone to having with this.  

Bella:  Bella has not needed an antibiotic in a year!  She was getting 4-5 ear infections a year and she now at most might get one a year!  Her immune system is stronger than ever!  She's full of energy and has a great appetite!

Jackson:  After struggling with Eczema for a year and it was continuing to worsen, it began to clear up!  Within 4 months of taking Juice plus, we stopped all steroids.  He has never needed a topical steroid since for any type of eczema!  His eczema completely cleared up and he hasn't had anything in 3 years now!  His asthmatic symptoms began to fade quickly as well!  He hasn't needed an asthma breathing treatment in 2 years!  He is full of energy with a strong immune system!

Tuck:  I began taking Juice Plus during the third trimester with Tucker so I really believe he has a strong boost!  I don't even know if he's ever been on an antibiotic...I would say no more than two if any!  He has a strong immune system...if he gets a fever or a typical virus....we load him up on Juice Plus and he kicks it very fast!  He's full of energy and loving life! =)

Charlotte:  I look forward to seeing how she develops!  She is my only baby that I took Juice Plus with the entire pregnancy!  She has had a few ear infections as a baby....but she was also a winter baby.  As of now, she hasn't been sick at all in 6 months!  That is nearly unheard of for a 10 month old baby!  

I will add that Juice Plus has various research studies that have found that those who take it see an increase in their desire for eating a variety of fruits and vegetables as the capsules/gummies help to broaden the taste pallet!  None of my kids are picky eaters and they will pretty much eat anything offered to them!  We never have issues with constipation anymore....the nature of whole fruits and veggies is that it keeps our digestive system regular!  What mom has time to deal with constipated kids!?  We have done the powdered capsules and I would just open them up into smoothies for the kiddos.  But, now we all just take the gummies!  The kids love them and they are delicious!  

Like most young families, we were concerned about the cost.....but the way I look at is that we were seeing the pediatrician once a month for at least one person in our family...and then they would just share the germ so we were in even more often than that!  So, when you add up co-pays and prescriptions.....the cost is crazy!!  Basically it is $1.45 a day for an adult and then we get a child supply for free!  I mean it really is amazing!  So, basically $1.45 for Jeremy and $1.45 for myself each day and the kids are free!!

I truly feel so empowered and so blessed that the Lord led us to this opportunity and opened this door for our family.  Just knowing that we are fueling our bodies with rich nutrients to help protect and build our bodies at the cellular level, is a very awesome privilege!!  God has used this to truly bless our family!

I've been wanting to take the time to sit down and blog about this journey for a while now...because I've had several conversations of friends struggling with immune systems, eczema, allergies, asthma, constipation, auto immune issues, skin issues, picky eaters....and the worry that their kids aren't getting all the nutrients their body needs to function at an optimal level.  SO, if you are one of those friends and have any more questions....or if I could be of any help to connecting your family to this awesome opportunity, please contact me and let me know!!  I feel like we are all on this journey of life and raising kiddos together.  We have had so much success with Juice Plus and it has truly helped bridge the gap between all the vitamins and minerals we should be getting on a daily basis but just can't possibly ingest it all on our own.  I would love to help connect others to this wonderful blessing that has so richly changed our lives. 

Here is a link to the Juice Plus website....contact me and let me help you join this journey!

My Personal Juice Plus Website:

Whitney Lloyd's Juice Plus Page

Tuck is 3!

My sweet, adventurous, fun-loving, wondering boy is three!  How can it possibly be true??  Tuck has changed so much over the past year...he is on the go and I'm certain that his mind is always working and thinking and never ever stops.  He is our little engineer...climber and able to solve any problem.  He keeps us on our toes to say the least.  I guess what can we expect...he's always done things in his time at his own pace.  I should have known when he didn't decide to walk until 17 months...and then the next week went for an adventure without permission (opening the front door, walking outside and closing it behind him).....took a stroll across the yard to our neighbor's porch...that he would be the child to truly keep us all on our toes!  He also decided that he didn't have much to say until he turned two...and then wham!  Who knew that child had so many words in that big head of his!  He hasn't stopped talking sense!  He is one smart boy and particularly good with his hands and fingers.  Go figure a 17 month old opening the front door, closing it and helping himself to a stroll!!  Lord help me!  He can open anything, climb anything and with curiosity like his.......theres no telling what he will end up in each day.  He's always been my kitchen helper.  He loves to help me wash the dishes, cook dinner or bake a yummy dessert.  He tends to be always up for an adventure but yet he is our most sensitive child as well.  I will never forget the time that we turned on the blender and he broke down in tears shaking!  The sound was so loud it just scared him!  He likes to be somewhat prepared for loud noises and unfamiliar things.  He loves to do puzzles!  He is the master of his wooden puzzles...even the tricky pieces!  He loves to snuggle up and read a good book or 10. =)  He's definitely the chid on the carousel that is looking up at all the gears and trying to figure out how it turns round and round.  He's the only child that we've had to turn the bedroom locks around for.....but the funny thing is even that won't keep him in his room.  For the first few weeks, we would tuck the boys in and sure enough Tuck would come walking down the stairs!  Every night, he seemed to have a different gadget or toy he had hidden under his pillow to plan his escape...and he would successfully pick the lock!  Go figure!  So now, we've learned to check his pillow and under his bed for any creative objects that may be used as a key! Haha  He has a huge heart and a fun-loving spirit.  He's always up for a good time, a fast ride, a funny story and a yummy cookie.  He can hold his own in this family and no one pushes him around.  It is so exciting to watch him explore, grow and learn...I look forward to seeing what this next year holds for him!

His Growth Stats:
34 inches 50%
33 pounds 70%

Here are a few pictures from his Birthday party....at the Fire Station!!

Jackson & The Praying Tree

On Wednesday, July 12th, the kids and I were all in the van running errands together and Jackson shared with us that earlier that day he had said some special prayers at their praying tree outside.  He said he prayed for Papa's shoulder, he asked Jesus to heal Mimi and then he asked Jesus to come into his heart and save him.  Jackson had been talking more and more about spiritual things the past couple months, so I just responded to him that I would love to talk more and out that and we could answer questions he may have about it all.  Well, later that evening, Jackson came up and asked when we were going to sit down and talk more about Jesus saving him.
I have been praying since my children were in my womb for their salvation.  I pray they will be sensitive to spiritual things and that their hearts will be turned toward Jesus at a young age.  But, I also pray that the Lord will make it so completely clear to Jeremy and I that it truly is the Holy Spirit working in their hearts and not just "what everyone else is doing" or "what they think they should do."  We pray the Lord will capture their hearts at a young age and then the Spirit will be persistent with pressing in on their hearts.
So, when he came to me again that same day on his own initiative, I was overwhelmed with the assurance from the Lord that I needed to carve out some time and sit with him to talk uninterrupted. I put the kids down and then Jack and I went to my room and crawled on the bed together to talk.  He shared with me once again that he asked Jesus to save him by the praying tree earlier that day.  He said that he knows he does bad things (sin) and that Jesus died on the cross for him and hat he wanted to go to heaven one day.  So, we talked about sin and how it separates us from God/heaven.  We talked more about How God sent Jesus to save us and he took our punishment on the cross when He died. I then explained that we just ask Him to save us, forget for us and then we ask him to be in charge of our loves.  I explained it to him that it's kinda like we have a pretend chair in our heart and we have to choose whether Jesus is on the chair and in charge or if we are in charge of our lives.  He quickly said, "oh I want Jesus in charge."  Sweet boy.  So after taking some more, I just told him he could pray and just talk to Jesus about his decision and thank Him for dying and tell him He wants to live for Jesus.  So, right then and there...Jack prayed the sweetest prayer.  "Dear Jesus, I'm so sorry I do bad things and sin.  Thank you for dying for me.  I want to be saved.  I want you to sit on the chair in my heat. Amen."
Sweet childlike faith.  It's been so neat to see the Lord work in His life this summer.  With Mimi battling ALS, we openly talk about life, healing and death....and heaven is talked about very openly. We talk about how God will either choose to heal Mimi on earth or in heaven but she will be healed one day.  We talk about how there is no more sickness in heaven.  This summer, we also made a visit to Ieremy's dad's grave.  We talked to the kids about how bodies are buried in the ground but that the soul of a person who knows Jesus is in heaven.  Jackson and Bella both were very inquisitive about this and it really spurred on discussion with lots of questions.
As difficult as the passing of Gaga was nearly 6 years ago and has heartbreaking as it is to watch Mimi suffer from this cruel diseases, we see God working and changing lives including Mimi's grandchildren.  She has prayed and prayed for their salvation. In fact, within 2 weeks of each other, Jackson, Sadie and Houston all accepted Jesus.  God is amazing....He offers such peace, hope and faith.
I praise Him for the answered prayers....the prayers I began praying when his little body was forming and developing in the womb.  I praise Him for reaching down and rescuing Jackson, Sadie and Houston all within such a short time...a direct answer to sweet Mimi's prayers and a reminder to us all that He is good...He is God...He is in the life changing and miracle working business.  He loves us so much and is so kind to allow us to share in this time of rejoicing amidst the grief we are all enduring with sweet Mimi's progressing disease.
May all those who see and hear of His kindness and goodness be drawn to Him.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Jackson is 5

This little handsome gentleman is five!!  He is truly a gentleman...all boy and ready for a wild adventure, yet super gentle and always caring for others.  He has a heart as big as the ocean and the kindest that you will find.  He is brave, courageous and confident.  He is a friend to everyone and always up for meeting someone new!  He loves everything boy!  Fast cars, huge mud puddles, wild rides and scary adventures!  He's determined and focused...always taking his jobs seriously.  He loves to look nice and can pick the perfect clothing attire for any occasion.  Although he loves his cut off jean shorts and comfy tee, he will always look for the opportunity to sport his skinny slacks with a nice fitted button up and a bow tie...throw on a  nice belt and suspenders and maybe even a hat a bow tie..and he is excited!  Jack is all in wherever he is!  You won't ever find 1/2 hearted Jack...if its soccer time then he's out to score not just one goal but 10!  And he sure did this season!  He started his first game wondering why they took his ball and why everyone couldn't play with their own soccer ball.  But by the second game, it was goal time!  He scored and scored and scored and scored! Hahaha!!  Of course there was no better choice than a Super Hero theme for his birthday party!!  Here are some of our favorite pictures from the super fun swim party!!

Bella is Seven!

I can't believe that our first little angel is already 7!!  Seven just seems so much older than 5!  She is continuing to blossom into the most beautiful young lady who loves Jesus with her whole heart.  She has a the most gracious personality and is always looking for who she can take care of and nurture.  She is Charlotte's second mommy for sure!  She takes such good care of her brothers too.  She has such a fun loving, friendly personality.  She seems to be everyone's best friend.   She is always up for a good time and an adventure with a friend.  She continues to thrive and bloom in her ballet and tap classes and she loves all the frills and twirls for sure!  But, she also loves a good afternoon of digging in the dirt with her neighborhood friend and playing in the forts they have built!  She seems to find a good balance of being the prissy girly girl but is not afraid to get dirt under nails or sweat a little. =)  
She has grown leaps and bounds academically this year!  She loves to read and surprises me with the chapter books she chooses to read for leisure!  She will have multiple books going on at one time and finds a way to keep up with all the action and characters.  On any given night, you can find her in her bed singing worship songs and reading her little girl Bible.  Many nights I find myself cleaning up the house and washing the dishes as I hear her singing her little heart out in her room.  Responsible, caring, sensitive, adventurous, tender-hearted, creative, imaginative, fashionable and fun-loving are a few of the characteristics that stand out to me during this season of her life.

Here are a few of our favorite pictures from her Beanie Boo Adoption Birthday Party! We had a blast adopting  the beanie boos as well as making collars for them and birthday hats!  It was a fun afternoon of celebration!!

Charlotte's Month 5, 6, 7 & 8

Sweet little Mae began to come out of her shell around 5 months!  She was full of smiles and giggles...always excited to see mommy, daddy and especially big sister and her big brothers!  She continued to be an easy going little delight!  You never heard much of a peep unless she was hungry or sleepy...and then a little milk and a comfy place to snooze always made her happy again!   

Six months came way too fast!!  Her 1/2 birthday!  How can it be!?  She began loving to bounce in her exersaucer and roll around on the floor!  She loved looking in the mirror and playing on a blank with all her favorite jingle toys!  She got on the growth chart....woo hoo!!!  She was all of 2% in weight!!  Her head and heigh were both hovering around 60%!  

Miss little personality!!  She loved people....loved activity, loved to eat, loved to be held and loved to go for walks with her family!  She was full of energy these days and was beginning to put everything in her mouth!  She loved sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, yogurt, oats and especially cheerios!!  
A pure delight to all those around her!! 

Eight months and it seems like a blink of an eye!  Sweet little princess is the most precious angel!  We love her so much and her little personality is a easy going and tender as they come!  She's a sweet southern belle to the heart so bonnets are our new obsession!  Her She-She sewed this sweet little outfit for her!  We continue to have so much fun with our little bundle of joy!